Social media: mobilisation for a cause

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One of the first actions of the Coalition government was the closure of the Climate Commission, however, within days there was a rapid mobilisation of community support through social media, which has seen the rebirth of the organisation in a new form.

An online poll through the Sydney Morning Herald website, answered by some 50,000 people, provided the platform for how this new not-for-profit got off the ground with more than 70 per cent not agreeing with the decision to shut down the Climate Commission.

The Council gained significant support in its first 24 hours through crowd-funding on social media channels, amassing almost $400,000 in donations. By 27 September, this number had more-than-doubled to $800,000.

In fact, the Council received such a surge in donations, PayPal temporarily shut down its account, with a similar event happening on Twitter after a flood of support was received.

While many people may argue that hitting ‘like’ on a Facebook page cannot be translated into a dollar value, with close to 40,000 likes on The Climate Council page in the first day, each person only needed to donate $10 to reach their 24 hour milestone.

This illustrates perfectly how social media can enable the rapid mobilisation of people who are ready and willing to take action for a cause they are passionate about. Increased connectivity through social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, promotes the democratic values of communication and empowers the people.

Furthermore, it shows how the face of fundraising is changing through social media channels, allowing a cost effective way to engage the community and gain donations.

The Council, headed by former Chief Commissioner Tim Flannery, has raised an impressive amount of money to date, however, this number is still short of the former commission’s allocated budget of $5.4 million over four years ($1.35 million annually). The challenge now lies in maintaining engagement with their audience and giving them measurable results to ensure continued donation and action into the future.

It is always exciting to see the development of a community driven social media campaign, with peer to peer connections coupling with a common ideal showing how people can engage with one another and support a higher purpose. It will be interesting to see if this particular campaign will sustain its momentum into the future or if interest will drop off over time.

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